As many of you may know, next week is bea, or BookExpo America, one of the (if not the) largest and most important annual book fairs in the United States. This year it's May 25th to 27th, and industry insiders from hot-shot publishing executives to small town librarians will be milling around the Javits Center in New York City to meet other trade book folk, check out the big new titles coming out from a variety of publishers, and attend various seminars, talks, and panels. Authors (like you! or, like you one day!) will also be there, signing copies and often participating in the aforementioned talks and panels. And I'll be there, too.
This will be my third non-consecutive bea (I volunteered in 2007 and went as a representative of my house in 2009), and I'm excited to head back and use the event as a learning experience (read: find out what books are coming down the pike from other publishers) and as a chance to (re)connect with other industry professionals. And incidentally, gentle readers/authors, that's exactly what bea can be for you: a significant networking opportunity.
While I'm certainly not telling you to show up at the Javits Center with the shirt on your back and a carton of books, I am encouraging you to speak with your agent about whether or not it makes sense for you to attend. Space is substantial but limited, and badges are pretty expensive (they can cost up to $295 for a three-day pass); not everyone with an agent or publisher can or should or does go, so it helps to get perspective from your agent/editor. Of course, if they suggest you attend, I think you should go if at all possible. There aren't as many galleys as there used to be, but I think the information and connections you'll acquire by attending for even one of the three days will make the trip well worth your while.
While I don't have any particularly entertaining bea stories (at least, none that I can mention here), I'm certain that's not the case for all of you. If I'm right (and I usually am), feel free to share in the comments! (Ditto for any questions.)